Scottie Scheffler has been the hottest name on the PGA Tour for some time. He has won four tournaments, including the Masters, since February, jumping to No. 1 in the world rankings.
When he missed the cut at the PGA Championship, he learned what he could learn from it and moved on.
“You can learn anything from failure,” Scheffler said at the U.S. Open. “That’s always a good time to study. For me, I’m not going to sit there and be like, ‘Oh my God, how did this happen? It’s more of sitting down and saying, ‘You know, My mental state here and here could have been better, other than that, it could have changed my game. “Just not much has changed. No big deal.”
John Fields, who had coached Schaeffler at the University of Texas, agreed wholeheartedly.
“His anger, and the energy that used to go into anger because of his competitiveness, has changed a little bit with age,” Fields said. “Now, he and his caddies turn that into a powerful energy when they play. … I’m very happy and proud that he has grown to this level of maturity.”
So it played out at the Country Club in Brookline, Massachusetts, where Scheffler played a big role last week, taking a two-shot lead after three rounds.
Scheffler, 25, who played in Texas from 2014-18, is sure to be one of the favorites for Thursday’s Travelers Championship at TPC River Heights in Cromwell, where 2017 champion Jordan S. Peeth, still looking for his first PGA Tour victory, became a crowd favorite in an eight-hole playoff loss to Harris English last year.
All three have one thing in common: They played for Fields, who became the Longhorns coach in 1997 and continued a long golf dynasty.
Fields watches the PGA with his wife Pearl when not recruiting players. It’s become TV by appointment, and The Traveler is no exception.
“It happens every weekend, and Pearl and I can enjoy it,” Fields said. “It’s unreal. It’s like a gift. Our recruits are watching. Our players are watching. It creates incredible synergy for us. Our program is 96 years old and we win 96 PGA Tour titles and 8 majors. Think about it.”
Announced Friday, Dylan Frittelli, Doug Ghim and Jhonattan Vegas are the other Texas alumni in the Traveler field. Beau Hossler is on the waiting list.
Then there’s Cole Hammer, 22, who led Texas to its fourth national championship last month and was exempt from the Travelers.
“Cole Hammer is a guy, he’s charismatic,” Fields said. “His smile melts hearts.”
Fields, the fifth coach in its 96-year history, persuaded everyone to come to Austin and do his part to help them grow into the elite golfers they are today. He remembers Scheffler, who was born in New Jersey before moving to Dallas, as a skinny kid at 5-foot-100, 6-foot-3 and 200 pounds and very fast.
“I chose to walk with him for nearly two years and really get to know him as a player and as a person,” Fields said. “My favorite memory is evolution and Scottie came in and really struggled at first. He hurt his back because of his growth. Everything he’s done and all the different things he’s achieved as a player The achievements are amazing.”
When Scheffler closed the Masters in 3 on April 10, Fields marveled at his short game, just as he had been before.
“He and Jordan have one important thing in common,” Fields said, “their short game. What they can do around the green is really important, so, [Scheffler is] Played very well around the greens, which was on full display at the Masters. “
Spieth, 28, helped Texas win the NCAA championship in 2012 and then told Fields he wanted to come back, but only for the fall semester. Fields agreed because he wanted Spieth to influence his young golfers.
“He has all the equipment to be a great player,” Fields said. “But what sets him apart is the preparation. Jordan is always well prepared in our pre-game meetings. He knows what the weather will be like and knows a lot about the golf course. He’ll know what he’s going to face. … But you can’t underestimate how incredible that guy’s short game is.”
Spieth, who has won three majors, won his first PGA Tour tournament, John Deere, in 2013 with a miraculous bunker shot. He created his signature Traveler moment with another guy in 2017 when he emerged from a bunker to win a playoff game of sudden death.
“He jumped out of that bunker and gave Michael [Greller], his caddie, a chest lump,” Fields said. “And then Pearl and I jumped out of our chairs. I’ve always felt that Jordan did something extraordinary at the right time. He is always good in the game. “
When he turned pro in 2012, Spieth told TexasSports.com, “Coach Fields told me from day one that he was going to do everything he could to make me the most successful person I could be. What he stressed. That’s what he told everyone on the team.”
On June 27 last year, John and Pearlfields spent more than two hours on the edge of their chairs as little-known former longhorn Hickok battled through eight holes in the playoffs.
“I was praying he would win. It didn’t happen,” Fields said. “But the American public sees greatness in Kramer Hickok and it’s a huge trust in himself. He put in the time, he’s lived the life of a very good player and he’s become a very good player player.”
Hickok and Spieth, 30, became roommates right out of college.
“It didn’t hurt to live with Jordan Spieth for a few years after college,” Fields said. “And Kramer was very smart. He asked absolutely 100% all the questions he could.”
After England birdied the eighth playoff hole to win the Travelers, Fields texted Hickok telling him: “Your time is up. It’s going to happen.” Cramer remembers Fields nightly meetings and constant encouragement.
The legendary Longhorns who have won on the PGA Tour include Ben Crenshaw, Tom Kate, Justin Leonard and Mark Brooks, who won the 1988 Connecticut State Championship when it was called Cannon Sammy Davis Jr. Greater Hartford Open.
“Mark was talking to some of the kids in our camp,” Fields said. “He said it was a long title and they should give him two trophies.”
Fields spoke highly of Voyager.
“People come off the U.S. Open and they’re looking for respite, and the next thing you know they have 4 inches of rough at TPC,” Fields said. “It’s not easy. They really like the area. They enjoy the people. The golf course is always spectacular.”
Fields noted that Scheffler has the “biggest drive” to get into the Travelers, while Spieth has a lot of experience. But the patriarch of Texas Golf isn’t ruling out more surprises from Hickok.
“Kramer is one of my favorites because he works harder than anyone else to be a great player,” Fields said. “One of the things I love is that when a guy has success on a particular golf course, they come back and it’s another kind of rekindling. I hope that happens to Kramer again, he’s going to get a very Comfortable moments, maybe this time he can make it.”
Dom Amore can be reached at email@example.com.